• Resignation.jpg
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Traditional Oil on Walnut wood panel - one of my works from 2014, there are quite a few in the series that are all water-related or underwater subjects. My first 2 large paintings were both of underwater females, floating effortlessly and beautifully below the surface. This one...she is relaxed and floating. I love the dreamlike feel of these, beauty, and bliss all sort of twined together. Meditative works that lend to the atmosphere of relaxation and dream-making.

This one was actually sold to a chap in London, England, and I was getting ready to ship it. But when I noted that the shipping cost to his location was not that much less than the piece itself, I advised him and he changed his mind, and I don't blame him. Over $700 for shipping?? Ouch. But what was funny was that he asked me, "can you simply roll it up and mail it in a tube?". I laughed, and had to remind him that it is a wood panel, and indeed does not "roll up". Ha.

modeled from the Photography of: David Vasiljevic

Responses (3)

!piece @user #hashtag

November 11, 2021

“Resignation, not mystic, not detached, but resignation, open-eyed, conscious, and informed by love, is the only one of our feelings for which it’s impossible to become a sham.” - Joseph Conrad.

Artist Steven Curtis’ piece Resignation is the ultimate representation of how letting go can either make us sink or swim. Your attention will naturally be focused on the woman in the center of the work, which shows her leaning back with her eyes closed, appearing completely at peace. The concept of resigning can refer to a number of different things: a (horrible) job, stepping away from a relationship, or simply letting something from the past go. While resignations can be a scary decision to make, there is a feeling of ultimate serenity and peace. It is up to the audience’s imagination to assume what this woman has resigned from, but her facial expression clearly shows calmness for perhaps the first time.

While the woman is clearly the main focal point, it's important to also take note of the water surrounding her. Water can be chaotic, but in this case, it's completely calm, and unmoving. Not only does this represent a sense of tranquility in a way, but also coming to the realization that just enjoying the place where you are in the moment can be the most serene. Or, perhaps she’s just a Pisces. For many, like myself, water is a naturally calming element which adapts with each environment it’s in. This is something that’s necessary when resigning from a situation. By stepping away from a part of your life, you must adapt to a new environment and be mutable to changes. In a sense, this woman has to be just like the water that surrounds her.

One other element which is showcased through the oil paints is the color of the water and environment. The water closely surrounding the woman is a lighter color, and as it goes further into the canvas it gets darker. On a surface level, this may just simply represent the water getting deeper, but try to look at it in a different way through the concept of resignation. Once letting go or walking away from something, there’s an initial feeling of euphoria, excitement, and hopefulness. This represents the lighter colors surrounding the woman. However, when these initial feelings of adrenaline start to pass, that’s where doubt and fear start coming into play. As the water starts to darken, it symbolizes uncertainty and possible difficult times ahead. However, as the woman’s eyes are closed, she’s not acknowledging the uncertain future and instead focusing on her feelings of contentment. 

Curtis brings this imagery to life through his work with oil paints on a walnut wood panel. This isn’t Curtis’ first time exploring the concept of water within his work, but Resignation is unlike previous works as the focus is on relaxation and the woman floating in the water. He explains that his main purpose was to show the power of a meditative mindset, which is shown through his use of cool oil colors including blues, greens, whites, and touches of brown. Not only are these tones soothing to the viewer, but the woman’s calm and relaxed facial expression perfectly transports us to a place where we are living in the moment.

On the surface, Resignation may just simply look like a woman having an enjoyable time in the water. However, once fully studying this piece, you’ll take note of the small details which send a bigger message — resigning can be a mixture of peace but uncertainty

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Chamidae Ford

November 11, 2021

What happens when we succumb? Resignation, a painting by Steven Curtis, poses this question. I feel compelled to begin at the top of the beginning and work my way down, like submerging my body in water, feet first. Painted on a walnut wood panel with traditional oils, deep forest greens introduce us to the painting by Curtis. Setting a tone of darkness that cloaks Resignation. One does not feel hope looking at the image but rather an ominous peace. A calm before the storm. As you move down the painting, the light starts to seep in through shades of blues and yellows. Along the bottom of the frame, a young woman is submerged in water, only her face feeling the cool air of the world around her. You can imagine the water brushing against the woman's forehead, her floating body slightly bobbing in the soft breeze. There is a coolness to the painting, through these darker hues, Curtis alludes to the fact that this is not a summer dip. The piece lacks the energy of summertime. There are no children splashing or teens laying alongside the lake. The sun is not sparkling across the water. It appears Curtis has pulled inspiration from Wisconsin, where the piece was painted. You can feel the Wisconsin wilderness, right before autumn, emanating from the panel. I feel it must be her last swim of the year, before the lake freezes over, and the snow starts to fall. The soft ripples in the water suggest it's calm, she is the only one around, others are unable to handle the crisp weather. There is also a feeling of isolation that accompanies the cold hues of the painting. She is alone, she alone is resigning to the moment at hand, to the water, to nature. 

“Resignation” is often a term associated with pain, giving in, giving up, but this painting lacks emotional hardship. While it is cool in color, it doesn’t feel depressing, it feels grounding. It is meditative. She is not giving in to pain but rather giving in to peace. 

The color of her lips and the rouge on her cheeks give this piece life. Without these hints of berry, the whole message would disappear. Instead of marveling at the living natural world, we would be forced to reckon with the death that exists all around us. These small additions create a warmer atmosphere, balancing out the dark greens. With her lips slightly parted you can almost hear her breathe slipping out. Warm exhales clash with the cool breeze. Likewise, through ripples in the water, Curtis creates movement. Adding to the idea that this image is not stagnant, it is alive. It suggests we are catching the woman just as she has laid her head back, the exact moment she has decided to resign. She is not deep in the throes of meditation; she is only beginning. Her peace is fresh and new, there is more to come. 

The painting is modeled after a photo by David Vasiljevic, while very similar, Curtis makes the woman in the foreground more encompassing. The surrounding world is more of an idea than an actual image. The greens in Curtis’ paintings remind one of the forest and brush without creating a real image of it. Setting the scene without taking away from the moment that the subject is experiencing. This focus urges the viewer to wonder 'what she is thinking?' 'What are the thoughts in her mind, the images behind her eyelids? Is she pondering a fight between friends? Planning her evening? Wondering what her next step is for her career?' But the longer you gaze at her, her face devoid of any wrinkles or worry lines, completely relaxed, you begin to think she does not have a real thought in the world. She is just existing in the cool water and letting it fall away. She has mastered the art of turning her mind off. This piece acts as an interlude, a break between Point A and Point B. We do not know where she was before this, or where she will go after, but for these fleeting moments, she is one with the water. 

In many ways, Resignation acts as a reminder. Passing by this painting pulls you in, distracts you from the world around you, it gives you your peace back. It urges you to slow down, to pause, to let the water hold you. In a society that favors productivity over everything. That encourages a life of lively outings, loud bars, 10-hour workdays, Resignation is offering you an alternative. What if you resigned to the natural world? What if you laid your body in a cool lake and let yourself float? Would your life fall apart? Resignation suggests that your life may actually come together.

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John Crowther
John Crowther Critic

November 11, 2021

Resignation is an ethereal painting that evokes feelings of calm and acceptance. The subject floats in the foreground on a still body of water that recalls Claude Monet’s famous Water Lilies paintings. Her tranquil expression, elegantly reclined head, and absence of any other visual stimuli culminate in a soothing composition that portrays a woman peacefully floating above all the cares and concerns of the world. We get the impression that she is happily lost in a dream-like world of her own making. She is an archetype of the person we all wish to be: someone who does not require outside validation to find happiness and peace. “Resignation” is often thought of as a defeat or act of surrender, but here the artist challenges that notion and begs the question: "isn’t resigning oneself to life's many problems the first step towards creating a life unaffected by them?"


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Steven Curtis
Dreamscapes, Figurative
Painting - Framed
Oil, Canvas
18.00 inches wide
38.00 inches tall
2.00 inches deep
2.00 lbs
Randolph, WI, US